Cardiff was fortunate to be graced by the appearance of soul poet legend Leonard Cohen on a few occasions before his death in 2016. Though his final few tours should have never been (turns out his manager had embezzled a lot of his money), they remain cherished memories for everyone who went.
In what was my first event back at Chapter, Steven Elliott paid tribute to this outstanding songwriter. My worry, when hearing opening number I’m Your Man, would be Elliott trying to mimic Lenny, with varying levels of success. It’s not easy to try and match that gruff, vocal fry in a way that is genuine. Elliott shared Cohen’s milestones and stories, things we’ve already heard in documentaries and from the man himself. This is a drop in the ocean: a show just shy of 90 mins could only touch upon his love of women, thirst for travel and creative drive.
The band joining Elliott are perfect in their roles: keys, acoustic guitar and vocals all matching the feel for the many musicians Cohen had with him on his musical journey. I would have loved to have heard First We Take Manhattan and Tower Of Song, though most expected choices were present. The evening had to end with the icon that is Hallelujah and you simply could not go without Suzanne and So Long, Marianne.
It’s the sensual and scenic imagery that stays with you, this pleasant little concert doing a good job of keeping the memory of Lenny alive. Even moments with Elliott in his trilby hat makes us feel like he’s back in the room with us. A good effort, if still lacking a certain something.
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, Thurs 23 Sept
words JAMES ELLIS
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